Chen’s escape was heroically assisted by our fellow activists He “Pearl” Peirong and Guo Yushan. Chen feigned inactivity by lying in bed for long periods. After evading the local goon squad surrounding his home, Chen was able to find He and Guo at a nearby meeting place and was driven to a safe house in Beijing. Alas, He and Guo were discovered and taken into custody. As of this writing, Chen’s whereabouts are unclear.
I and fellow Chinese human rights activists worry about not only Chen’s safety but the safety of all exposed to provincial police bullies. I hesitate to call them “police” as that suggests some legality to their behavior.
The out-of-control turf war in China between various parties claiming authority is a byproduct of the Beijing regime’s “stability maintenance” system. It is similar to battles in 1930s gangster movies — not procedures in any modern, civilized nation’s police and legal system. But this helps explain how a dozen or so local security brutes ended up pinning down, kicking and punching a blind man and his wife in their own home.
Chen’s case is the most notorious blot on the Communist Party’s heavily stained human rights record. In 2005, after Chen exposed horrific cases of forced abortions stemming from China’s one-child policy, he was placed under house arrest for six months. Chen had the temerity to file a class-action lawsuit on behalf of the victims of this “family planning” barbarism. That’s not something one does in a one-party state.
When his first house arrest ended in June 2006, Chen was formally arrested but was not even allowed legal representation in court. That August, Chen was sentenced to four years and three months in prison for “damaging property and organizing a mob to disturb traffic.” That would be quite an achievement for many individuals, never mind one who has been sightless most of his life. After Chen served this sentence, China’s gangster “justice” system continued to punish him. He was placed under house arrest upon his release from prison.
For years, Wen has talked about the need for political reforms and portrayed himself as the man to carry that movement forward. After the fall of Bo Xilai and Bo’s neo-Maoist political/economic model, the premier once again hoisted the flag of “reform,” as though the ship he steers is really preparing a new course. At a news conference last month, Wen even invited critics to come as guests to Beijing, where, presumably, they would be given a chance to voice their concerns.
So, Wen should make clear that Chen Guangcheng has a standing invitation to come to the government’s compound and, in safety, detail the atrocities he spoke of in a video posted online after his escape.